By Mike Tenbusch | July 09, 2021

Please accept my apology for not writing you in over a month.  I’ve missed you! 

As much as I enjoy sharing these reflections every couple of weeks, I had to step away for a bit to meet with supporters of our mission around the nation to ask for extraordinary help.

When we began the year in January, we only had the funding in place to cover the tuition and food costs for about a third of our 816 scholars and their families in five nations—a function of the commitment we made at the beginning of the pandemic to make sure every family had enough food each month to survive.   As we approached the halfway point of the year, we were still way short of what we needed for food and tuition costs for the remainder of this year.

As one possible solution, we asked our team leaders in each nation what would happen if we reduced the amount of food we give each family by 50% over the last six months of the year, a move that would save us almost $200,000 in 2021. 

Tears filled my eyes as I read Andrew’s notes from his calls with our leaders in each nation.  By saving $40 per month per family, we would inevitably be sending scores of families back into the dumps to look for food.  Having helped so many families escape such a hellish condition, we would be implicitly asking them to go back.

The mother of one of our scholars in Zone 3, Guatemala, walking home with her June 2021 food basket.

Our scholars and their family members take great pride in their work ethic and the toughness they’ve developed working in horrendous conditions to make money from the cardboard, plastic and metal that can be recycled.  I admire them for that—and the scholarships you support ensure that their children will never have to do the same.

But going into the dump to find food amongst the garbage seems like a violation of something sacred to me.  Making a decision to allow this to happen would feel like I were committing a crime.

And so we visited old friends and new ones from New Jersey to Colorado asking them to give much more than they ever had before.  Wow, did they answer the call!  Nine families so far have combined to give over $400,000 to make sure every scholar stays in school and no family goes hungry this year.  These families were not alone.  They added to the gifts of 1,000 families who gave for the first time ever last year, along with hundreds who give faithfully every year, to help all of our families survive 2020 and now 2021 too.

Together, you have helped to deliver more than 12,000 food baskets delivered since the pandemic began 16 months ago. 

The kindness and generosity of this community of Samaritans is food to my soul in troubled times.  You reflect the love and goodness of God in our lives every day.

I’ve learned a couple of really valuable lessons in my travels over the last month that I thought might be helpful to share with you before I close:

  1. If you’re walking through Times Square in New York and a crowd assembles around three funny guys with a lot of energy, don’t stop and watch!  Chances are, they will pull you into the middle of the circle and make you dance for the crowd.
  2. Any cartwheel you think you can do in your head is nowhere near what it will actually look like in reality once you pass the age of 50.

Yours Truly,
Mike Tenbusch

President Mike Tenbusch does his best cartwheel in Times Square while meeting with our East Coast supporters.